Sofia Viscuso | Photography Editor
Professor of classical studies Mallory Monaco Caterine saw her first roller derby match 12 years ago at a Philly Rollergirls match in Philadelphia. To say this experience created a lasting interest would be an understatement.
“I thought they looked like superheroes,” Monaco Caterine said when remembering watching the competition that night. At the time, she wasn’t able to make the significant commitment roller derby requires. But this all changed when Caterine moved to New Orleans to teach at Tulane in 2013.
At the end of her first year at Tulane, everything fell into place. Monaco Caterine found the time and a way to join the world of roller derby that she fell in love with years before.
Caterine joined the Big Easy Rollergirls, New Orleans’ premier roller derby club. The club offers several levels of competition. The first of the three is the Big Easy Wrecking Crew, which serves as their recreational league for beginning skaters.
The Big Easy Wrecking Crew is where Monaco Caterine began her roller derby career in May 2014. The recreational league meets once a week and aims to teach beginners the basics and rules of roller derby.
The Big Easy Rollergirls are most commonly recognized from their appearances in the Muses Mardi Gras parade and the Running of the Bulls. What most people don’t know is that their main focus is on the sport of roller derby, with the organization competing at a high level while also teaching the basics to beginners.
The next level of competition is the Big Easy Rollergirls Second Line, which serves as the B-team for the club. To enter the Second Line, players must go through the “fresh meat program” to make the transition from the recreation league to the more competitive level of the B-team.
After a year in the “fresh meat program,” Monaco Caterine made the roster for Big Easy Rollergirls Second Line. She then played for the B-team for another two years before making the transition to assistant coach as she was expecting the birth of her child. A few months ago, Monaco Caterine entered a “temporary retirement” from the sport of roller derby.
“Big Easy Rollergirls is an all skater-owned, skater-run organization, so every skater needs to put in time outside of practice to market our bouts, to make sure our finances are working, to build our membership up. It was like having a part-time job,” Monaco Caterine said. After the birth of her child, the time commitment became too much to balance.
At the peak of Caterine’s run with the Big Easy Rollergirls, she had made it onto the roster of the AllStars, the A-team of the Big Easy Rollergirls and highest level of roller derby club competition. Even though she did not feature in an A-team match, she was competing at the level of the starting players on the AllStars.
Her tentative plan is to return to the recreational league before moving back up to the Big Easy Rollergirls B-team. “I really like that level a lot, I like working with newer skaters and helping their skills progress.”
For those interested in getting into roller derby, Monaco Caterine recommends joining the Big Easy Rollergirls recreational league. New skater classes are held Oct. 21 from 6-8:30 p.m., Oct. 24 from 5:30-8 p.m., and Oct. 28 from 6-8:30 p.m. All sessions are at the Skate Country West Bank, and gear can be provided.
“We are building up women by knocking women down on skates,” Monaco Caterine said. “It’s the best spectator sport that there is.”